I know no valid reason for not using both tactics to drive traffic to an affiliate website other than fear (don't know PPC, might lose money) or laziness (I get traffic via PPC, why should I bother with organic SEO?). Organic search results are obtained through time, building quality links back to the site, and page optimization. Time is really a key factor with organic rankings, as it generally takes time to obtain high rankings for a wide range of search keywords. Paid search or PPC is simply a marketplace for visitors. An affiliate submits an ad to the search engines and bids for placement, and buys clicks/traffic/visits.
Organic search results are viewed by consumer searchers as more credible than paid search advertisements. From a consumer perspective (be it a truly valid or not), the search company is an objective party assigning credibility to top search results by ranking them highly. However, it's not likely that any affiliate can rank in the top 3 or top 5 for the majority of keyword searches for their target categories across all of the major search engines. This is where paid search comes into play. An affiliate is still able to get onto the first page of results through a paid search listing for keywords they might not otherwise rank for organically.
When first building an affiliate site, one effective strategy is to immediately jump in with PPC ads to drive traffic to the site. This allows an affiliate to test things out (is the page converting, how well is it being received, etc?) WHILE the organic search placements are being improved through time and through link building. The important factor, when using PPC ads to drive traffic to affiliate offers, is to track, measure and adjust. Make sure your ad costs are not exceeding what you are making via commissions. Kristy at AffiliateStuff just gave us a great formula for figuring this out:
Avg Order Value x Avg Conversion Rate = Avg Sales Per Hundred Clicks x Affiliate Commission = Avg Earnings Per Hundred Clicks
Once you have your average earning per 100 Clicks, compare that with your ad cost for 100 clicks, and if the earnings are higher, then you're making money! If it's lower, then it's time to do some analysis, figure out which keywords are costing the most and converting the least, and either optimize the ads, or get rid of those keywords. Successful PPC marketing is all about trying, measuring, analyzing, and reconfiguring; it's quite a simple process that only seems complex at first.
Now, back to the original topic at hand, paid search vs. organic search. I've tried to build the case for using paid search and even delved into a tactic on how to do paid search. Now, to address those who are just slapping up quick landing pages designed only to funnel the visitor as quickly as possible to the merchant page, There really is no reason not to build that landing page up for organic rankings as well other than laziness. Half the battle is finished, the page is there, online, the affiliate link is set. Now, simply build some original quality content for the page, and start working to get links back to that page or site. Organic results are free, an added bonus that costs nothing outside of effort and creativity.
A well-rounded, diversified affiliate will employ both tactics to make their affiliate business a success. If you're neglecting one or the other, there are some great free resources out there through forums and blogs to help you build up your skill set. However, don't try to over analyze and over educate, the important thing is to dip your foot in the water and try it yourself. Experience is always the best education.
Excellent Learning Resources for SEO and PPC:
Labels: affiliate marketing, Affiliate search marketing, PPC affiliates, PPC campaigns, tips